Patchwork nation blogs

December 6, 2012
Over the past few decades the Republican Party has been a kind of three-legged stool, supported by three key elements – an abiding belief in cutting government and taxes, a strong advocacy of social conservative issues and a solid commitment to a strong national defense. Those issues helped build a winning coalition that included tax-cut favoring suburbanites, Christian conservatives and defense hawks. But the last few elections suggest some of those legs may be getting a little rickety – particularly the one built on national defense. In Patchwork Nation, the shift has been particularly noticeable in the counties we call Military Bastions.  Those counties tend to be located near military bases and have large numbers of soldiers, veterans and military contractors. And in the last two elections now – elections that might be considered largely post-Iraq War – the GOP has seen its advantage in the Bastions shrink from double digits to low single-digit...
November 29, 2012
As the votes from the 2012 election have trickled in, the size of President Obama’s victory has grown – it’s now more than 4 million votes. That count should signify two things to Republicans who wanted to portray President Obama’s win as a squeaker. One, while this margin is no mandate, it is bigger than either of George W. Bush’s presidential wins in 2000 (in which he actually lost the popular vote) or 2004. Two, despite some GOP critiques that Mr. Obama won by capturing small slices of the electorate, the net result was a pretty broad win. But looked at through Patchwork Nation, there is one larger overriding concern for the Republicans in the 2012 election results: despite all the talk of minority voters and demographic segments, there are signs they are losing the political middle. That shift reveals itself when you look at the 2012 vote counts and margins compared to previous elections, particularly 2004, in the wealthy Monied Burbs, the...
November 27, 2012
In the weeks since the US presidential election, many analysts have tried to explain the results. One meme in particular has taken root: that President Obama won reelection with a campaign of “small” issues that divided America into different groups, while Mitt Romney lost with a broad attempt to unite America on the economy. But the evidence is weak. Exit polls showed Mr. Romney narrowly carried the day on the economy. And while Mr. Obama carried voters who said health care or foreign policy were their top issues, these can hardly be considered “small.” Foreign policy is a big issue by any measure, and health care was considered a huge issue by both sides. And as outgoing Pew Research Center director Andrew Kohut has noted, on several key social issues, Republicans stand on the wrong side of public opinion: 59 percent believe abortion should be legal, and 65 percent support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In other words,...
November 26, 2012
It’s nice to think that the holidays are bigger than politics. With a long, hard election behind us, the healing can begin as Democrats and Republicans unite in an annual binge of communal consumerism. Alas, it’s not that simple. America’s red/blue divide goes deeper than the ballot box. The socioeconomic targeting and demographic slicing that are all the rage now in Washington actually have their roots in consumer marketing. And as the commercial niche-ing practices have grown (and grown better), the red/blue divide has become another way for retailers to better understand where to place their ads and their stores. What the data show: Democrats and Republicans not only see the world differently and vote differently, they often shop differently. You can see those differences in the data of Experian Simmons, a consumer research firm that tracks the shopping habits of Democrats and Republicans with a massive survey. The red/blue retail divide is not easy...
November 19, 2012
Hyperbole is a staple of Washington political discourse – particularly on the negative side. Speeches are full of references to  “disasters” and “catastrophes” that are lurking just around the corner. But sequestration, the much-discussed “fiscal cliff,” is the rare case where the hazards on the horizon look very real and very far-reaching. The impact of the cuts that would come if the government cannot reach a compromise on a debt reduction plan by January – more than 8% in discretionary funding by estimates – would stretch far beyond the Beltway. When voters think of government austerity, the talk often centers on the halls of congress or the federal agencies that line the Mall in Washington, but that misses the point. The money that comes out of the capital finds its way into cities and towns across the country — and cutting it sharply would affect not only the national macroeconomy, but thousands of smaller...
November 14, 2012
Of all the big winners on Election Day, one of the biggest may have been a concept: the gender gap in American politics. From President Barack Obama's 11-point edge with women over Mitt Romney in exit polls to Republicans losing two senate seats over troubling statements about rape, 2012 seemed to further the idea that gender is the leading definer of Democratic voters: double x marks the spot. But lumping more than 50 percent of the population into a group and talking about it as a single unit can oversimplify things a lot. Go deeper into the 2012 exit poll numbers to look at the women's vote and picture begins to change. To be clear, the gender gap in America is not a myth—the numbers show it's real—but it's also very complicated. It can grow or shrink depending on a host of factors: race, age, marital status, even geography. Let's start with one of the biggest story lines of 2012: that the gender gap was an epic problem for Romney and the...
November 12, 2012
In politics winning is always the goal, but not all wins are equal. A win built on declining populations and shrinking voter bases, is still a win. But a win based on growing voter bases brings with it hopes of a naturally rising tide of voter support This is the angst behind the comments of many Republicans, who fear their party’s deep deficit with Hispanic voters in 2012 is a very bad sign. They fear falling further behind in a game that is changing before their eyes. So with that in mind, Politics Counts tried to map the battle for growing America. We went through Tuesday’s presidential results by county and compared them to Census figures to see who won the “growth vote” Tuesday. Looking at the numbers that way, results for just growing counties, may bring some solace to the Republican party and its nominee Mitt Romney. Underneath, however, there also appears to be some issue strengths for President Obama and the Democrats in places...
November 7, 2012
Elections produce many things, from balloon drops to new elected officials, but they also produce mountains of data. Analysts will spend weeks going through the 2012 results and exit polls pulling out bits and strands of numbers that explain what this state or that county did. Those facts and indicators will be what future campaigns are made of. But a quick rundown of the 2012 numbers reveals a few big trends of particularly significant note. They are important not only because of what they say about what happened on Tuesday, but also about what they say about the elections to come. And they exist at some important hinge points in American society: race and ethnicity, income and education and the urban/rural divide. Race and Ethnicity Through the most basic prism, political analysts had a very good sense of how the election was going to break last night simply by looking at who voted. Before the big states were decided the exit polls showed the national electorate was...
November 7, 2012
When the many stories of 2012 are written, there should be a special focus paid to the suburban counties Patchwork Nation calls the Monied Burbs. Those counties have become a reliable Democratic constituency in recent elections and, when all the votes are counted, 2012 will likely show just how strongly. Obama won the election last night because of a Midwestern firewall, but also because of a firewall in the Burbs. At this writing Obama leads in the Monied Burbs by 6 points - as you can see on WNYC's election night map. That’s less than he won them by in 2008, but more than the Democratic candidates won them by in 2000 and 2004. Their leaning toward Democrats seemed to grow more solid when you consider the situation working against the Democratic incumbent this year this year – a long recession, a feeling that the country is on the “wrong track.” What drove it? We’ll dig into that more in the days and weeks ahead, but sitting here on Election...
November 6, 2012
Patchwork Nation is partnering with WNYC tonight to follow the presidential election results as they come in live. Go to their site - http://project.wnyc.org/election2012/ - to watch the numbers come in county-by-county and type-by-type starting when the polls close at 6 pm. Dante Chinni, director of Patchwork Nation, will be contributing live election analysis on their site and on-air. You can listen online by clicking the “Listen” link on the top of WNYC’s map page. Some other resources for tonight’s watching, listening and web browsing: A guide to the counties that will likely matter in eight battleground states that everyone will be watching. A look at two of the latest polls, released just before voting began, broken down into Patchwork Nation’s 12 types. And an analysis of what they tell us about what we might see tonight. And, of course, in the days after the election Patchwork Nation will be sorting through the results to get an...